Reddit commenters are tearing apart a Washington Post article using Flint’s water crisis to report on potential pollution problems in poor, black communities around the country. Commentors on Reddit, however, were thrilled with the paper’s using Flint to harp on pollution.
The Post’s Chris Mooney wrote an article titled “It’s not just Flint: Poor communities across the country live with ‘extreme’ polluters.” Mooney uses issues with lead in Flint’s water to draw attention to a new study about air pollution and poor communities which he says “adds to a body of evidence showing that the U.S. continues to struggle when it comes to ‘environmental justice.’”
“The highest polluting facilities were also more likely to be located in proximity to poor and minority neighborhoods,” Mooney wrote about the study.
Flint’s water crisis has nothing to do with industrial pollution, but instead the crisis was caused by regulators applying the wrong chemical treatment to keep lead pipes from leaching into the city’s drinking water.
Reddit commenters were quick to jump on Mooney for using Flint’s regulatory snafu to push “environmental justice” concerns in poor, minority communities across the country.
“Polluting facilities have nothing to do with the lead problem in Flint’s water,” one commenter wrote. “Many old water systems have lead water mains, they are expensive to replace, it can be reasonably safe if they are managed to avoid leaching the lead out, which failed in Flint.”
“This looks like a water management blunder not related to pollution at all,” wrote another redditor.
“Don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good agenda,” another redditor added. “The lead issue in Flint, however, is not the best example of this because the source of lead contamination was not from industry, but the infrastructure itself.”
“This article is misleading,” another commenter noted.
Mooney, however, did acknowledge Flint’s water crisis was not caused by air pollution, but went on to quote researchers who say the city’s experience was “relevant” because its “structurally disadvantaged.”
“I think what you see in Flint is really going to raise attention around environmental justice issues around the country, and also how you have these other environmental justice disasters that are looming out there,” Sacoby Wilson, an environmental health professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, told Mooney.
“The issue with the drinking in Flint water isn’t pollution,” a redditor wrote of Mooney’s article. “That’s a pretty important distinction. WP seems to be using people’s interest in the situation in Flint to draw attention to a larger water contamination issue, much of which is the result of pollution. Maybe that’s opportunistic, but it’s certainly not inaccurate.”
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